During her college years, Janis Dodge thought she would pursue a career in either law or politics. But a job in the consumer electronics field steered her down a different path, and she wouldn’t change one minute of the journey.

After college, Dodge accepted a position with Panasonic, where she learned much about marketing and work ethics. However, traveling three weeks out of the month became a stumbling block to starting a family. Her husband, a banker, suggested she consider switching to banking, which became a turning point.

“After all, there’s no difference between building relationships and working with customers to meet their needs, whether the product is a television, stereo or checking account,” Dodge said.

Beginning at The Bank for Savings in Malden, Dodge also worked at Mellon Bank and Bank of Boston before landing at Salem Five 15 years ago, where she has worked on the consumer and micro business side. In addition to her responsibilities with retail sales and consumer lending, she has had the opportunity to offer input on branch and product designs. “Salem Five has allowed me to try new things and take risks,” Dodge said. “I don’t know of other banks that would do that.”

The changing face of banking due to modern technology and ever-changing regulations presents a challenge for institutions that want to remain relevant and competitive.

“Customers need good advice from people interested in helping them, whether in person, on the phone or online,” Dodge said. “Community banks are progressive and growing. The way we work with customers resembles a modern mutual bank.”

Family tradition led her into volunteer board and committee positions with several local historical museums – her in-laws served as directors of the Peabody and Wenham museums. She also devotes a significant amount of time raising awareness and funds for The Mastocytosis Society and The Center of Excellence for Mastocytosis at Brigham & Women’s Hospital after being diagnosed with the illness eight years ago.

Nominator Martha Acworth, senior vice president, chief marketing officer, noted that Dodge’s consistent lifelong dedication to community involvement made her the perfect candidate for a Community Bank Hero award.

“She clearly has a guiding philosophy in her everyday life that a true commitment to the things you care about matters deeply, as that is what creates a critical sense of community,” she said. “In her role leading the retail bank of 30 branches, she really considers each and every community in which we do business her own.”

Also, Dodge believes it is a sociological imperative for the bank to assume a leadership role in supporting families, businesses and charitable organizations in the community, according to Acworth.

“By example, she inspires us all to do what we can as individuals. Her energy and enthusiasm toward this common goal is contagious – though almost unmatchable. There is nobody in the bank with a more packed schedule of evening and weekend engagements out in the community,” she said. “As a result, she is the most knowledgeable person in the bank on the true pulse of every community we serve. She makes it a point to understand each community’s most pressing issues and to celebrate their most treasured traditions, while ensuring that she appreciates diverse perspectives on each.”

Dodge looks forward to finishing her career at Salem Five over the next few years and then enjoying retirement with her husband, children and grandchildren.

Janis Dodge

by Phyllis Hanlon time to read: 2 min